Mar 02, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
So here stood the Fayetteville-Manlius boys basketball team, again facing Henninger, again finding itself in overtime.
Only this wasn’t the relative comfort of a home regular-season affair, but rather the intense, pressure-filled atmosphere of a Section III Class AA semifinal Friday night at LeMoyne College. Only the winner would get a shot at a sectional title.
F-M battled to the last moment — but just like in that first meeting, Henninger came out on top, beating the Hornets 59-55 to set up a championship showdown with CBA this Saturday at Manley Field House.
That initial outing had come on Feb. 10, an instant classic where F-M led most of regulation, only to see Henninger rally and, in overtime, prevail 75-68. A mere 17 days later, the two sides were at it again.
With fresh knowledge of what each other could do, the opposing defenses did a far better job of containment, making baskets a bit more precious. It also kept both the Hornets and Black Knights within close range all night.
After an airtight first half, F-M clung to a 25-24 lead. Henninger inched in front during the third quarter, only to have the Hornets reclaim that edge in the final period as every possession got more important.
Throughout the game, Henninger honed in on F-M’s junior star, Brian Zapisek, and never let him get going, as Zapisek managed just 13 points. The Hornets countered with a nice offensive balance, as Jack Giles and Erik Mueller each had 14 points and Mike O’Neil contributed 10 points.
This helped F-M gain a 52-50 lead in the last minute of regulation. The Black Knights’ Jermaine Taylor answered with a basket with 46 seconds left to tie it, and F-M could not get the winning basket, leaving the sides even at 52-52 and going to overtime again.
Much of the four minutes of OT proved just as even. Each side put in six points, leaving it at 58-58, and the real possibility of a second OT loomed.
But with one shot, Henninger’s Christian Smith altered those plans, hitting a huge 3-pointer with 21 seconds left that pushed the Black Knights ahead for good.
F-M couldn’t answer the basket, and Kihary Blue’s free throw clinched it. Overall, Taylor led with 12 points, with Blue and James Bardenett each had 11 points, and Chris Gainey produced nine points. Smith had seven points.
The Hornets finished at 16-7, and has a chance to be even better next winter. Only Mueller, T.J. Early and Ethan Braddock graduate, so Zapisek, Giles, O’Neil and Mike Lee lead a large returning cast that, augmented by additions from a great JV team, could push F-M to the top.
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